Reuben Saltzman

Truth-In-Housing Pre-Inspections

If you need a Truth-in-Housing inspection but you’re worried about having ‘The City’ come through your house, have a pre-inspection done.  A pre-inspection is an inspection done by a private evaluator to let you know about the items in your home that would require repair on an official Truth-in-Housing inspection.   Instead of talking about the details of how a pre-inspection works, I’ll tell a story.  Hopefully this will make it easier to understand.

Jane is getting ready to sell her home in Minneapolis, and knows she needs a Truth-in-Housing inspection before she can list her house for sale, so she hires me, a licensed evaluator with Minneapolis, to inspect her house.  I spend about an hour walking around the house with Jane, making notes in my computer the whole time.

At the end of the inspection, there are a few things I’ve identified that require repair in Minneapolis; non-functional smoke detectors, missing CO alarms, and missing vacuum breakers.  These are rated on the report as RRE items – “Repair / Replace, Evaluator” – this means that an Evaluator (such as myself) needs to verify repair of these items.  Another item that requires repair is the water heater flue, because it’s backpitched.  This is rated as RRP – “Repair / Replace, Permit” – this means that a permit is required to do the repair, and an employee of the city of Minneapolis will need to inspect the repairs  A number of other items are rated as B – “Below Minimum Requirements”.  These are things like a missing handrail at the stairway, missing cover plates on outlets, and a broken window.  These items don’t require repair.

I explain these items to Jane, and tell her she has a few choices:

Get the final report. This is probably her least desirable option, because there will be a bunch of items on the report for anyone to see, making her house less desirable than another house with a ‘clean’ report.   The benefit would be that she can list her house right away.  If she gets the report, she has two more choices to make – fix the items and have them re-inspected, or sell her house as-is.  If she sells her house as-is, whoever buys the house will need to sign a responsibility agreement, saying that they’ll be responsible for repairing the RRE and RRP items, and have them inspected within 90 days of closing.  Most buyers aren’t interested in taking on other people’s repairs, so this is usually a last resort for sellers.

Get a pre-inspection.  This means that I will print an informal list of items that would show up on the final report.  Jane will have 35 days to complete these repairs and have me come back to verify they’re corrected.   I tell Jane that she needs to obtain a permit to repair her water heater flue, but I won’t be checking for permits when I come back; I’ll be checking to make sure the repairs are correct.  The only drawback to doing a pre-inspection is that she can’t put her house on the market right away.

Jane decides to go with a pre-inspection, and has me back out three weeks later.  The re-inspection takes about five minutes, and I verify that Jane has corrected all of the “RRE” and “RRP” items, and has even fixed all of the “B” items.  I give her a clean report, and she puts her house on the market that day.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections – EmailMinneapolis Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator